cities | May 06, 2013

Confessions: Candy Chang Connects Communities By Sharing Secrets

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. And, thanks to the work of cities speaker Candy Chang, what happens in Vegas also stays scribbled on the walls for everyone in Sin City to see. Aptly titled "Confessions," Chang's installation turned a Las Vegas art gallery into a space for spilling secrets this past summer. Featured in The Huffington Post this week, the exhibit explores the intersection of public and private space, and how creating more inclusive spaces for people to connect improves the sense of community in the neighborhoods we live in. Her other project, the very popular "Before I Die", also uses simple tools to allow people to share their hopes and dreams with those around them. It has become so popular, in fact, that Chang is in the process of creating a book about it (due out this year). It will feature photos of the "Before I Die" walls that have been eradicated across the world, personal stories, and inspiration for improving our urban living through other similar ventures.

Here's what Chang, a popular TED speaker, had to tell The Huffington Post about the inspiring public spaces she creates:

"We're all trying to make sense of our lives and there's great comfort in knowing you're not alone. And you're not. Everyone you walk past is going through challenges in their life. Maybe it's their relationships or family or work or health. Maybe it's something they've been meaning to face for a long time. [I think of the quote] 'Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.' But it's easy to forget this because we rarely venture beyond small talk with strangers."

Her dedication to creating an intersection of public art and civic engagement recently earned Chang a spot on the 2013 Good 100 list. In her speeches, she draws from the successes of her public space projects to show us a new way of thinking about urban planning. Combining personal stories with issues directly affecting the audiences she speaks to, Chang sparks conversation about how to best use our public spaces. And, how to harness the collective wisdom inherent in all the people who frequent them.